November 05, 2019

Sales Execution

Don't Let Your Reps Fail Alone

Jake Mars

Jake Mars

Jake Mars
Jake Mars

VP North America Sales Alteryx

Suffer In Silence Rep

Sales is one of the few careers that can be measured by a number: You either hit yours or you don’t. Oftentimes reps can fall into the habit of believing that their number is their number alone — that they are the ones solely responsible for hitting that number.

However, in my experience working with some of the best reps in the industry, I know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While sales reps must certainly be accountable for doing whatever it takes to hit their number, it doesn’t mean they have to go at it alone. Instead, they should be adopting a CEO mentality, pulling in the right resources, making the right calls, asking for help when need be and doing whatever it takes to close their deals.

The top sales reps understand the importance of bringing others along for the ride. Here are 3 ways reps can do that.

#1: Get everyone in the boat

The most successful reps I’ve seen get everybody in the boat with them. Getting everyone in the boat means selling internally and convincing those around you to pitch in. It’s asking your peers and teammates for help.

This is crucially important for 3 reasons:

  • It reminds reps of the big picture. It’s easy for reps to put their heads down on execution and become so focused on progressing a deal that they lose sight of the big picture. Have you ever had a rep so focused on locking in the next meeting that they forgot to ensure their potential client understands the value of what they’re offering? Involving others helps ensure they don’t completely miss something — it helps them reduce blind spots.
  • It eliminates happy ears. Even the most seasoned reps can find themselves falling victim to happy ears. It happens to the best of us. They want to believe a deal is good so badly that they miss the obvious red flags. Having someone else come in and pressure-test their deals by inspecting sales activity data or combing through the details helps ensure that it’s real and the rep isn’t just hearing what they want to hear.
  • It helps them be more efficient. When reps bring in people to look at their deals or provide marketing air support, the deal can move through the funnel like a well-oiled machine while freeing up more of the rep’s time to focus on higher-value activities. The more people they have touching their deal and adding value, the more effective they will be in getting that deal across the finish line. Revenue is a team sport.

#2: Encourage asking for executive alignment

Even the most resourceful and influential reps have their limitations. There are things a rep just can’t do. Encourage reps to ask for help even from senior executives when specific connections need to be made.

For instance, a rep may have sales alignment with the company’s CIO, but in order to close the deal, they may still need to align each team’s CFO. That sequence of events could be critical in progressing the deal, and the rep may not be in a position to achieve it on their own.

As leaders, don’t just be available to support a deal, actively encourage your reps to include you in plays they cannot complete on their own.

#3: Get the customer on board, too

When reps ask for help internally and at the executive level, they’re positioning themselves for success. But it shouldn’t stop there.

Have reps share a “mutual action plan” with the customer and get it approved in writing. A plan can be seemingly perfect, but if the customer hasn’t seen it and agreed to it, your rep’s action plan is pretty much worthless.

Having the customer involved ensures reps have covered every step in the buying process and that each side completely understands what’s involved.

Sometimes the customer they’re working with won’t even know their own internal purchasing process, so hammering out the action plan can help reduce any late-stage surprises. The majority of times that I see a deal split out of the quarter at the last minute is because a customer ended up being blindsided by a step in the process.

Having a mutual action plan also ensures your rep is communicating value with the customer early and often, and that the customer understands the business outcome and the value you’ll be delivering.

Nobody wins alone

In this business, nobody wins alone. One mistake a lot of new reps make is trying to go it alone, which is setting yourself up for failure. Reps should be embracing their peers, leaders and customers to help them move along their deals. The worst thing your rep can do is avoid asking the important questions or suffer in silence. Within the organization, everyone should be invested in the common outcome of every opportunity.

Author Bio: Jake Mars is VP of North America Sales at Alteryx.

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